Chipotle Sets New Goal To Drive Environmental Sustainability

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) announced its commitment to divert half of all of its restaurant waste from landfills by 2020. Since 2015 Chipotle has made significant strides towards reducing the amount of food and packaging waste bound for landfills, increasing its diversion rate from 31 percent that year to 40 percent in 2017. Now the company embarks on achieving a 50 percent diversion rate.

Landfills can often contain materials that could have been recycled or composted for greater environmental benefits, but instead emit greenhouse gases that may contribute significantly to global climate change. By diverting materials that would otherwise be sent to a landfill, Chipotle is doing its part to help lower emissions and be a positive force for change. 

“Increasing our waste diversion rate to 50 percent is an ambitious goal, but we feel it’s important to be assertive in our efforts to advance our purpose,” said Caitlin Leibert, head of sustainability at Chipotle. “We remain deeply dedicated to bringing guests great tasting food while upholding Chipotle’s values and commitment to food made with respect for the land and environment.”  

To reach this goal, Chipotle and its partners are implementing several best practices, including:

  • Reduce: Programs such as Chipotle’s Mindful Prep initiative, which trains restaurant staff to minimize food waste during the preparation process, along with targeted initiatives to reduce packaging, have lowered the amount of total waste upfront. 
  • Right Sizing: Chipotle adjusts services and food preparation to its sales per restaurant so less food is going to waste at the end of day. 
  • Recycling: More in-restaurant recycling and compost programs are being implemented for food packaging disposal. With this, Chipotle is working towards a goal of ensuring 100 percent of its restaurants are recycling by 2020. 
  • Waste Audits: Chipotle goes a step further in waste management by using existing data to predict and manage its waste diversion rate. For example, after auditing its restaurants, the company replaced plastic wrap, a non-divertible product, with reusable lids to reduce the amount of material it sends to landfills. Chipotle is constantly assessing opportunities like these to reduce waste and support the environment. 
  • Food Donations: By 2020, Chipotle has pledged that 80 percent of its restaurants will participate in the Harvest Program, which donates leftover food to local community organizations. 
  • Composting: The company is also committed to increasing the availability of composting in its restaurants to 20 percent by 2020. 

A full-time Diversions Coordinator will continue to oversee the work Chipotle is undertaking to meet the 50 percent goal. Chipotle also engages trusted partners to ensure proper waste handling at its restaurants. One of these partners, RiverRoad Waste Solutions, works with approximately half of Chipotle restaurants to constantly evaluate and implement programs to maximize waste diversion.

“Chipotle is never satisfied when it comes to minimizing its environmental impact,” said Kris Bunnell, CEO of RiverRoad Waste Solutions. “The company is always looking for new ways to go above and beyond to do what is best for their guests, the community and the environment.”